Reviewed OER Library

<< Return to resource list

Are humans good or evil

NYC Dept. of Education

View Resource

Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2013 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2013. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

Background from OER Project Review Team
The New York City Department of Education has developed Common Core-aligned tasks embedded in units of study to support schools in implementing the standards. Though there is no clear licensing on the materials, there is clear instruction on the website that educators may adopt these resources in their entirety or adapt the materials to best address students' diverse needs.

Publishers' Criteria (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Strongly Disagree) to 3 (Strongly Agree). Quality of Text: 2.25, Quality of Questions and Tasks: 2.63, Writing: 2.5.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar if improved (2.8)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 2.75, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 2.75, Instructional Supports: 2.25, Assessment: 2.75.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 2.5, Interactivity: 0.75, Exercises: 2.75, Deeper Learning: 2.75.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Minor (2.5)

At first glance, this unit appeared to be incredibly difficult based on the complexity of the texts. After sorting through all of the supporting activities, it appears to be an excellent example of how to provide all students with a means to make complex text and complex ideas accessible. Students read Rousseau’s “The Social Contract,” Hobbes’ “The Leviathan,” T. S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland,” Burns’s “To a Mouse,” and Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est.” Each piece is read a minimum of 3 times while completing a variety of activities that draw students to access the vocabulary, analyze author’s purpose, and develop arguments regarding the text and its relationship to other texts. The focus of instruction is on the following Common Core Standards: RI.11-12.1 and W.11-12.1. Other standards addressed include RL.9-10-1. RL.9-10.2, RL.9-10.3, RL.9-10.4, RL.9-10.7, and RI.9-10.5

The ultimate goal is for the student to write an argumentative essay that appreciates the other side by applying the arguments of Hobbes and Rousseau to what they believe to be Eliot’s point of view regarding human nature in “The Wasteland.” They have the opportunity to practice using Rousseau’s and Hobbes’ arguments by applying them to the other two pieces mentioned above before writing their final essay. The unit includes clearly guided activities and assessments as well as rubrics that are clear for the student as well as the teacher.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

I felt it worked very hard to give a clear checklist of the task, provide opportunities for listening speaking reading and writing.

It was good to have an initial assignment that was a check in with students about their opinions on human nature. I liked that they used pie charts to summarize student responses.

I liked all the scaffolded writing assignments, intended to hold the students’ hands through the process.

I liked the clear final essay rubric and the model essays.

In theory I thought it was a good idea to have cartoons and a gallery but given the sad nature of the poem the results could be almost macabre.

I liked the referencing of the standards. I just felt this was the wrong primary source (too difficult) or the wrong poems (didn’t match the themes of the primary sources).

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

This thematic unit puts complex poetry and philosophical texts into conversation with one another on the question, “Are humans good or evil?” Students read and annotate the poetry of T.S. Eliot, Robert Burns, and Wilfred Owen, and analyze how these authors convey their perspectives on humanity through their figurative language and text structure. Students then compare the ideas of these texts to the arguments about human nature found in the works of Hobbes and Rousseau. This well-conceived unit provides a balance of appropriately complex literary and non-fiction works, and suggests specific activities for students to analyze texts, make claims, and support arguments with textual evidence. Students engage with the texts through multiple guided readings, structured Socratic Seminars, short written responses, intentionally captioned illustrations, quote selection and analysis, summary, and routine text comparison. Specific supports are suggested for students who are continuing to develop their literary analysis skills, and teacher guides provide strong sequences of text-dependent questions to use in class. The unit includes rubrics and annotated student samples for the culminating essay to help teachers interpret student performance. The unit could be brought into stronger alignment with the CCSS by outlining the writing process for the final essay, allowing for planning, revision, and trying a new approach. Extensions could be proposed for students reading above grade level, and opportunities for independent reading, writing, self-assessment, and reflection could be added. A technological component could also be added, and teachers may feel the need to create additional text-dependent question sequences to support student examination of the philosophical texts. That said, the unit is logical, balanced, and well-aligned to the CCSS. The final essay especially provides students a strong opportunity to synthesize ideas found across texts, and support arguments with textual evidence.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

This unit is clearly aligned to the CCSS, with an emphasis on Argumentative writing. During the unit students work toward writing an argumentative essay in which they cite textual evidence to make a claim whether T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Man” shows humans as being good or evil. Students rely on Rousseau’s “The Social Contract,” and Hobbes’ “Leviathian” to support their thesis and provide a counterclaim, thus they will not have to do additional research to find a counterclaim. The final essay assignment includes a rubric that is aligned to CCSS Writing Standard 1 (a-e). The rubric includes how to translate the standard-based assignment into an item a teacher could put into the gradebook using a 100-point scale.

The unit plan does not lay out a specific step-by-step daily lesson plan for all portions of the unit. For example, the unit provides worksheets that go with reading portions of “The Social Contract,” and “Leviathian,” but does not give lesson plans on how students will interact with those texts.

There are other portions of the unit in which there are more detailed lesson plans. For example, there are two other poems, Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse,” and Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est” in which students practice close reading and speaking skills as they prepare to write their argumentative essay. These are also aligned to the appropriate Reading and Speaking and Listening standards.

Support in the unit include the following items: learning targets, differentiation for struggling readers, example outlines, and example student work. Students re-read texts, each time with a different focus to help them learn the skills of close reading. There are also different possible interpretations given to the teacher for “The Hollow Man,” which is the text students use to make a claim in their writing.

This unit is aligned to CCSS and I would use this material in my classroom. Some teachers might be a little hesitant because getting some of the materials for students might take a little extra work. The Hobbes and Rousseau pieces are not included in the unit, but a simple Google search will yield the appropriate texts. The unit plans have a link to the other poems. In the unit there was a reference to question 26, which I had no idea what they were talking about or what rubric they were referencing to answer question 26. There is one area where the unit calls for technology integration through googledocs, but that assignment, while worthwhile, seems optional if computer access is limited. The ideas presented, though, are solid, and the alignment to the CCSS will give students the opportunity to develop their reading, speaking, and writing skills.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.